WaPo Journalist Seeks The Contrary In The Darkness

I think it’s important to point out, again and again, that the mainstream media’s contrarian and equivocating reporting has created a rhetorical failure in this country in which our leaders can brazenly lie with impunity.

The Washington Post journalist Amber Phillips is just one latest case in point. This week in a blog post she criticized former presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders for stating the obvious, which is that President Donald Trump is a liar who consistently lies. In Phillips’ view, however, the media and our leaders should be careful not to follow Sanders’ example of calling Trump out on his lies because, maybe, just maybe, Trump doesn’t even know he’s lying.

I know I risk reducing here the litany of problems of their own making faced by mainstream media outlets, but it’s hard not to see Phillips’ piece as the typical contrarian type of journalism that has brought us to this particular point of uncertainty and fear in our country’s history. Under the rhetorical formula of contemporary journalistic contrarianism, even wild lies that have been called out and proven as lies deserve some type of media redemption from great thinkers like Phillips.

It goes like this: Well, yes, Trump says untruthful things, but maybe it’s not intentional lying really and the political discourse is so extreme these days, anyway, so why increase the incivility? There you have it. The Contrarian Stance.

One has to wonder what major lie leading to some type of major authoritarian act under a Trump administration—martial law, massive illegal deportations and imprisonments, war—would make Phillips drop her equivocations and contrarianisms, or would she even drop them then? Why didn’t she spend some of her time this week writing a post demanding Trump release copies of his tax returns instead of picking on Bernie Sanders of all people?

Here’s a longer piece on the back-and-forth between Sanders and Phillips. Essentially, Sanders tweeted about Trump’s well-known lies because he’s creating awareness and is concerned about democracy. Phillips then wrote her post criticizing Sanders for his lack of civil political discourse, and then Sanders responded to Phillips with a real question without a whiff of hyperbole or personal attack because, well, that’s Trump’s style, not Sanders’ style.

So what do we do, Sanders simply asked, when the United States president is a consistent, verifiable liar? Nothing?

The entire episode shows that despite new commitments to discover and report the truth in the Trump era from such media outlets as The Washington Post and The New York Times journalists throughout the country continue to apply old rhetorical formulas to new phenomenon. This includes the he-said-she-said false comparisons between lies and real arguments and The Contrarian Stance.

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A Win For Public Education: ESA Bill Pulled From Consideration

The fact that a legislative bill that would have created education savings accounts in Oklahoma has been pulled from consideration is a victory for public education and overall a positive development this session.

One always knows something good has happened on a legislative matter when it prompts a wildly misleading editorial in The Oklahoman, the ultra-conservative newspaper, which lamented the bill’s demise because, get this, everyone, it would have helped children from low-income families.

Since when has The Oklahoman cared about impoverished people or overall poverty in this state or even basic children issues? Since never, and it still doesn’t. The newspaper is a stalwart entity of right-wing extremism that not only supports further enriching the extremely wealthy people in the state through income tax cuts but also sells daily its toxic brew of income disparity initiatives and trickle-down economics as modern miracles of bold, enlightened thought.

What the editorial leaves out is what’s important here. It’s the wealthy, not the impoverished who ultimately benefit the most from education savings accounts in which families are given taxpayers dollars, or per-pupil dollars, to use to pay for private schools. Let’s be clear that poor and even middle class people usually don’t have enough money to come up with the tuition of most private schools, such as Oklahoma City’s Casady and Heritage Hall, even with partial financial help from the government. But the extremely wealthy, whose kids are already in private schools, could always use the extra money, right? That’s how vouchers work. It’s a transfer of money to the extremely wealthy.

The editorial, titled “Poor families lose with withdrawal of Oklahoma ESA bill,” begins by quoting liar-in-chief Donald Trump and then commences with its own series of whoppers. The editorial notes that Republicans “ignored the needs of some of Oklahoma's neediest children,” without acknowledging how similar voucher programs in other states, such as Indiana, have primarily been taken advantage of by people who would have sent their children to private schools anyway.

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Cyberbully Trump Breathes Fire Again

We can hope the mainstream media journalists who praised President Donald Trump after his supposed redemption speech last week will now understand the country is clearly dealing with an unhinged, calculating liar as its leader.

As the bizarre tweets over the weekend indicate on a larger, cosmic level, any effort to find praise for the racist and misogynistic Trump at this point for anything is an exercise in crass deflection, a grave error and disservice to this country and democratic institutions throughout the world. Some decent reporters and analysts in the mainstream media, of course, didn’t fall for Trump’s intentional misdirection play when he addressed Congress last week in a more subdued manner, temporarily abandoning his normal ranting style so we can maybe hope there’s still some hope maybe.

But the praise for Trump, mainly from the major television networks, was as bizarre as Trump’s weekend tweets, and it just wasn’t Fox News.

Of course, Trump lied his way through the speech, which the now-trying-to-be honest media, such as The New York Times, reported diligently, but the president’s television enablers—the hairs as I call them—were so struck by his different tone they became convinced his speech was some type of miraculous change in style, tone and, get this, substance. Maybe they think this is all a reality television show that ends happily for someone. That all stopped in the next couple of days as his fellow liar and campaign surrogate, fellow racist Attorney General Jeff Sessions, got caught in his own web of deceit, and the Trump regime imploded once again into a carnival of the bizarre.

By the time the weekend arrived, Trump was tweeting wild accusations about how former President Barack Obama ordered the wiretapping of his offices back in October, which is not even legally or, well, physically possible unless the former president did it himself with a ladder, pliers and top secret eavesdropping gizmos. Even FBI director James Comely eventually called Trump out on the craziness and absurdity of his outburst. In one ridiculous tweet, Trump referred to Obama’s fictional action as a Watergate-type scandal and then as McCarthyism when, in fact, the continuing exposure of the Trump’s regime Russian connections is the real Watergate in the living room.

As we now know, Sessions’ lying made him recused himself from any investigation examining Trump’s and his campaign’s connection to Russia, which meddled in our recent election on both presidential and Congressional levels by hacking into emails and supporting conservatives and authoritarians for office.This mainly included support for Trump as the Russians released mundane emails through Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks of national Democratic Party officials, innocuous emails that received breathless coverage from our dysfunctional corporate media. The infighting in the Democratic Party was so important, wasn’t it, just like the Benghazi investigation and Hillary Clinton’s server, right? Does anyone, except those directly involved, even remember all the specifics about any of those two events?

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